Thursday, January 31, 2008

Is the internet invulnerable?

I've just seen this story about a severed cable disrupting the internet in the Middle East and India. (BBC News: Severed cables disrupt internet) Much traffic has been disrupted. I remember several years ago when the main transatlantic cable for JANET, the main UK education network, went down. There was similar disruption to the internet, along with much frustration amongst users - I hadn't seen so much frustration since my first year as an undergraduate when the world wide web often failed at weekends and there was no-one in the server room to push the reset switch.

Yet all this is at odds with the idea of the internet being indestructible, as I remember all the promoters telling me in the mid 1990s. Time and again they argued that if a cable was broken the system would simply reroute and there would not be a problem? Or was this era of optimism based on much lower usage and smaller download sizes?

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